Syria, N Korea crises deepen - G8 meet

2012-04-11 19:37

Washington - Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight major economies arrived for talks in Washington on Wednesday as pressure mounted for international action over security fears in Syria and North Korea.

Top diplomats from the United States, Russia, Canada, Italy and Japan gathered as Syria, despite continued regime attacks on rebels, promised to respect a Thursday ceasefire and North Korea moved closer to launching a long-range rocket.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted the ministers, after saying on Tuesday she would raise Syria and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's ceasefire plan with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the margins of the two-day G8 meetings.

"I think there will be a very rough couple of days in trying to determine whether we go to the Security Council seeking action, knowing that Russia is still not on board," she said on Tuesday.

Like other G8 capitals, Moscow, a Syrian military ally, has backed the peace plan, but it puts far more weight on the Syrian opposition halting 13 months of violence and has vetoed UN Security Council measures condemning Assad.

Under the Annan plan, Syria's armed forces were supposed to have withdrawn from protest centres on Tuesday, with a complete end to fighting set for 48 hours later.

Continuing to mount attacks, Syria announced on Wednesday that it will cease military operations against rebel fighters from Thursday, but Clinton has demanded deeds, not words from President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Britain's William Hague and France's Alain Juppe were to arrive later for the G8 talks here, while German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle had also not arrived.

Rocket launch

The G8 foreign ministers will also discuss nuclear-armed North Korea's planned launch of a rocket which Pyongyang says is aimed at putting a satellite into orbit, but much of the rest of the world says is a disguised missile test.

Defying worldwide calls to back down, North Korea said on Wednesday it is fuelling a rocket for launch between April 12-16.

During a Tuesday press conference in Washington, Clinton and Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba warned of "appropriate" action at the United Nations if the North goes ahead with the launch.

"It is necessary for us [at the G8] to issue a very strong message," Gemba added.

G8 members the United States, Russia and Japan are part of the troubled six-party nuclear disarmament talks which also involve South Korea, North Korea and China.

The planned rocket launch has undercut a February 29 deal with the United States in which North Korea agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program along with nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for massive food aid.

The ministers are also expected to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear ambitions ahead of weekend talks between Tehran on the one hand and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany on the other hand.

All but China and Iran are G8 members.

The club was long the pre-eminent forum for global decision-making, but President Barack Obama's administration has put a greater focus on the Group of 20, which also includes major emerging economies such as China and India.

The foreign ministers meeting is designed to prepare for a summit in May in Camp David, Maryland.

Joining the G8 meeting was European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

  • Fred - 2012-04-11 20:02

    The Russian regime shouldn't be there. It's supplying arms to Assad and will divulge information to him that he will use to continue butchering Syrian families.

  • Fidel - 2012-04-11 20:42

    Isn't it ironic that the five members of the UNSC responsible for global 'security' are the world's biggest arms dealers by a very, very long way.

      Fred - 2012-04-11 21:00

      More simple thinking on your part Fidel. It depends what those arms are used for. In the case of your heroes the Russian regime, arms are sold to cruel dictators to hold onto UNELECTED power, and to crush peaceful demonstrations. You continue to delude yourself.

      Fidel - 2012-04-11 21:11

      Obama's administration have signed a $30bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia, are still shipping arms to Bahrain. Do the US alone get to decide who is a nice dictator who they can sell weapons too and who is an evil dictator who needs sanctions against him. If the US fleet was in Lattakia then Assad would be getting the Bahrain treatment. Obviously, knowing the word 'delusion' does not guarantee that you can see it in yourself. Unsurprisingly, because you are a self-serving paranoid delusional. These delusional people are fit to be tied.

      Fred - 2012-04-11 21:39

      The US does get to decide who it has relationships with, and who not. In the case of the Middle East, unfortunately there has only been dictators to choose from, such is its backwardness in terms of human rights. Thankfully this is now changing.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-11 21:44

      What supporters of dictators/tyrants/mass murderers are very good in is to ;CONFUSE !!! What has 30bn US arms to Bahrain, got to do with the situation in Syria. ???? NOTHING AT ALL !!! It is the Russian arms industry, and Russian advisors/experts , that are making it possible for this assad thug, to murder THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of his OPPOSITION !!!!!

      Fidel - 2012-04-11 21:50

      Russia does get to decide who it has relationships with, and who not. In the case of the Middle East, unfortunately there has only been dictators to choose from, such is its backwardness in terms of human rights. Thankfully this is now changing. It depends what those arms are used for. In the case of your heroes the US regime, arms are sold to cruel dictators to hold onto UNELECTED power, and to crush peaceful demonstrations (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia). You continue to delude yourself. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx You are hopelessly deluded, flip flopping from accusing Russia of arming Syria to excusing the US of arming all other ME countries except Iran. Remember that it was Saddam who gasses Iranians and later Kurds using biological weapons supplied by your peace loving yankees. Some cognitive dissonance is at work here!

      Fred - 2012-04-11 22:04

      You're supporting the Russian regime, which is arming Assad, who is butchering and destroying Syrian families by thd tens of thousands and destroying cities across Syria.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-11 22:08

      Forget about "cognitive dissonance" Just talk normal !!!! Sure there are more "cruel unelected dictators" and yes, they should also be removed !! And it will happen. The "Arab Spring" is far from over !!!! But you know what the ironi is???, YOU and your heroes are delaying this, by supporting this evil assad dynasty. Because , not if, but when this assad thug is gone, there are more to follow, and sorry to say.........the people of IRAN, are also going to experience true freedom one day.

      Fidel - 2012-04-11 22:17

      Anthony, your wandering brain gets confused very easily. This article is about the security situation in Syria, amongst other things. The countries that are meeting (G8) are the biggest proliferators of conventional weapons, including arms being used in Syria. You can twist and distort what I've said as much as you like, the way I have come to my opinion is easily legible. I don't know why am allowing myself to get embroiled in daft arguments.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-11 22:33

      Fidel, Nobody is forcing you to do anything. ( This is not Russia, or Iran, You can do exactly what you feel like ) ""The countries that are meeting (G8) are the biggest proliferators of conventional weapons""===== TRUE !!!! ""including arms being used in Syria""=======ONLY RUSSIAN AND IRANIAN !!

      Fidel - 2012-04-11 22:46

      Truly plumbing new depths of ignorance and naivety. The arms used by the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan were Russian made as well even though Russia wasn't arming the Afghans. The arms used in Lybia, supplied by Qatar and France were also Russian made even though Russia wasn't supply them to the contras. Pull your head from your hog's tailpipe and read a book, newspaper, hell, a COMIC book would be a step in the right direction! All of this looks a lot more complex to you than you appear able to comprehend.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-11 23:03

      This is what I was saying: ""C_O_N_F_U_S_E"" In the above 100 plus word comment, not one single word relates to Syria!! I don't know if you realize this yourself; but every time, you don't have a valid response, you become very very childish !!!

      Fidel - 2012-04-12 00:05

      Perhaps News24 should introduce a software that allows posters to draw pictures as well as you truly and hopelessly lack comprehension of words and print. I am wasting my time with you. Clearly this comment of mine was too difficult for you? Good nite!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-04-12 06:18

      I don't know if you realize this yourself; but every time, you don't have a valid response, you become very very childish !!!

      Fred - 2012-04-12 06:37

      When you don't have a valid counter, you widen the scope of discussion as a distraction. Russia is arming Bashar Assad, who is butchering Syrian families and destroying cities across Syria. From Reuters (Tuesday, February 21st): The biggest importer of arms to Syria, Russia sold Damascus nearly $1 billion worth of arms including missile systems last year, while shipments of hard-to-track Russian small weapons have risen since the uprising against Assad started. In January 2012, the Russian ship Chariot, loaded with arms and ammunition, turned off its radar and sailed quietly to Syria to avoid attracting the attention of world powers increasingly frustrated by Russia and China's refusal to back U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at ending 11 months of violence. CAST, a Moscow-based defence think tank, says Russia sent Syria at least $960 million worth of heavy arms - which included several missile systems - in 2011 and has some $4 billion in outstanding contracts.

  • Nasser - 2012-04-12 06:39

    Clinton was in Riyadh last week bowing to his majesty a few days after the Grand Mufti of Saudi declared that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed. Wow, well done Hillary! There's lots more to the Syrian situation than the Skynews & Foxnews versions. The opposition in Syria is far from peaceful, they're armed & as violent as Assad. The issue with Syria has nothing to do with spreading democracy or protecting lives - it has everything to do with geo-political issues and the need to destabilise certain countries in order to balance power blocs so that US & European economic interests continue to protected and served in the region. If Fred sees the Syrian situation as a case of the US wanting to protect lives and spread democracy then he's completely naive!

      Fred - 2012-04-12 06:51

      Another wrong anti-West OCD post from you Nasser. Syrian Muslims are being butchered by Bashar Assad following close on eleven months of peaceful demands for the BASIC HUMAN RIGHT TO VOTE after 48 years of UNELECTED rule. Your conclusion: the demonstrators are as violent as Assad and the US is destabilizing the country. Beyond strange. Delusional.

  • Nasser - 2012-04-12 06:58

    Fred are you suggesting that Clinton was in Riyadh championing the cause of the Syrian opposition out of compassion for the downtrodden Syrian masses and a deep desire to spread democracy in the region? Lol, don't make me laff so early in the morning!

      Fred - 2012-04-12 07:01

      Did you even read what I wrote, or did you immediately regurgitate your OCD?

  • Nasser - 2012-04-12 07:05

    Fred if I'm anti-West then you a sheep who'll swallow anything George Bush and Foxnews feeds you without question! Its easy to be you Fred, an obedient servant to his master - at school you probably aligned yourself to the schoolyard bully and sucked up to him for all its worth so that he would pick on you! I'm the one who got my ass kicked because I refused to suck up and guess what - I encountered that self same bully the other day at the Mall - he got nowhere in life and looks pathetic! The kid he bullied 20 years ago owns him!

      Fred - 2012-04-12 07:09

      George Bush? Are you aware the Bush administration ended years ago. All the while Muslim families are literally being butchered by an UNELECTED dictator who's family has been in power for 48 YEARS. You're obsessing about George Bush.

  • Nasser - 2012-04-12 07:15

    Fred - go back to watching Foxnews and believe whatever your hero George Bush tells you! Its easier that way - cause then you can get your opinions pre-packaged. Its much harder to question things and think for one's self! You'd actually do well as Saudi national!

      Fred - 2012-04-12 07:19

      While you obsess about the distant past, right under your nose Muslim women and children are literally being butchered, RIGHT NOW, and HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of mainly Muslim civilians killed and maimed by Islamic extremists with their car bombs and suicide attacks. Your response: George Bush. Tragic. Weak. Stupid.

      Fred - 2012-04-12 17:29

      I don't watch Fox News or CNN

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